Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Peace I Give You...

PEACE. Over the last year our family faced a lot of unknowns, which can cause stress. I found  encouragement and much needed relief by reading a lot of verses about God's perfect peace. Psalm 34 tells us to "seek peace and pursue it".  I love the picture of seeking and pursuing, even chasing after God's peace. As a parent, I know that peace over our family and kids doesn't always naturally “happen”.  And last year it was a battle to just sit and "receive" it. So when the going gets tough, the tough get up and GO after peace. So I learned to actively choose peace in those moments... to CHASE peace if I have to! I give those nervous butterflies to God, give every concern to God, give any doubts or  insecurities to God. He is training my mind to be steadfast.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast,

because they trust in You.

~Isaiah 26:2-4

Philippians 4:6-7 was been our family's theme verse over the last year. And this free printable is framed on our shelf.  There have been times I read it daily, sometimes hourly. When things are out of your control and stress looms, here is a great “how to” verse on getting peace.

This verse took me to school. It beat the anxiety out of me until all I could do was pray and choose peace. It guarded my heart from breaking and my mind from freaking. I was officially schooled. So here it is broken down in case you need the same schooling:
How To Chase Peace 101: 
Step 1. Snap out of it - stop the downward spiral of anxious thoughts. 
Step 2. Pray - Replace those stressful thoughts with prayer & petition. 
Step 3. Be thankful - give thanks (out loud even) for every little bit you can think of. 
Step 4. Present your requests to God - be specific! Sometimes we forget to think through what we actually need and specifically ask God for that (James 4:2-3).
Step 5. Repeat as necessary.

And what are the results of this "how to"? You will be guarded - your heart, your mind - GUARDED. Protected and covered with a peace that doesn't make sense. It transcends all understanding. You won't get this kind of peace from any other place. It only comes from Christ and putting your trust, your prayers, your life in HIS hands. 

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
~ John 14:27

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lessons from A to Z ~ Crashing Waves

One of the highlights of August was our annual trip to Seaside Oregon with Chad’s extended family. This year the weather cooperated and was warm enough for the girls and I to play in the waves. We weren’t in there for long before I noticed how differently Zoe and Abby played in the waves.

Abby preferred to stay in the shallower waters where she was more mobile. As waves got close to her, she turned toward the beach, readied herself like a relay racer and ran. Once the wave had ended, she returned back to her original spot,  unscathed. She never got knocked down.
Zoe’s approach was much different. She didn’t run. She ventured deeper. She stood strong and  braced herself before each unavoidable wave crashed around her. Sometimes she screamed with the thrill of it all. Other times she would throw her arms out as if embracing the oncoming wave.

The girls reminded me of the waves that we face in life—the temptations, trials and tribulations that inevitably come. Some waves we should RUN from: temptations that could destroy our relationship with God, our spouse, or our family. God tells us to flee from temptation (2 Tim 2:22). Like Abby, watch for them while they are still far off and run!  Other waves are unavoidable and God tells us to BRACE ourselves (1 Cor 16:13): trials and tribulations that inevitably come through perhaps no fault of our own. Like Zoe, stand strong in the Word, face them head on and brace yourself!

Waves will come in our lives, God wants us to pay attention and be ready to run or to stand.

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.  ~Isaiah 48:18

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pretty Peonies - Ombre Style

I love Peonies.  They are my favorite flower.  They are similar to roses but with twice as many petals.  So get ready for a second post about flowers.  Its summer now and I just can't help myself.

I have been stalking driving by my favorite place - our local flower farm - every few days, watching and waiting for the first Peony buds to open.  And now that my favorite place has my favorite flower, I can't help but share them with some of our favorite people - our teachers!

The kids and I gathered an armful of peonies (for just $7!) to divide up into gift bouquets. 

Following the teacher theme, I became the Art Teacher to my kids while we made these bouquets, teaching them the art word of the day: Ombre.  Ombre means having colors or tones that shade into each other - used especially in fabrics and design in which the color is graduated from light to dark.  Its actually an old French word meaning "shaded". 

So if you didn't know that, there's your art lesson.  Ombre is all the rage right now - in fabrics, flowers, party themes, fashion, even hair.  Google it, I'm telling ya.

Anyway, we created "ombre" bouquets, using all the shades of pink peonies we could find, then clustering them from lightest to darkest.  We kept this theme for the gift tags too, by using paint chips (free at the paint store) that also were in graduated pink shades.

Here's all it took to make this pretty little gift:

- Mason jars ($0 - we already had these, you could even use a soup can)
- Pink ribbon ($0 - I already had different bits of pink ribbon. But twine or string can work too.)
- Paint swatches ($0 - free at the paint store)
- Peonies ($7 per bunch at the flower farm = four bouquets, plus a little left for me.
Total cost: less than $2 per bouquet, plus a little time.

Here is the end result: (Sorry the quality is not great, I forgot to take this picture until we were in the car making our deliveries.)

We put the bouquets in a shallow bucket in the car and the kids took turns delivering them.  Since school was already out for my kids before the peonies bloomed, we didn't have a chance to give these to their teachers so we opted to give them to the teachers we knew personally.  We were able to deliver them to their doorsteps on their first full day of summer break.  Happy summer!

It was a fun summer activity, it made a pretty little teacher gift, and it was a great way to get our kids involved with giving back and having a thankful heart.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Lupine Lady

Its lupine season.  Have you noticed? If you don't know what Lupine flowers look like, here they are:
Beautiful aren't they?  They are quite hearty and can grow wild (or in gardens) around here.  I don't think I noticed them much as a kid.  That is, until my mom read to me the children's book Miss Rumphius

If you've never read this award-winning book and you have kids, check it out at the library.  Beautifully written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, the story follows Miss Rumphius who has 3 goals in life:

1. Travel the world.

2. Settle down by the sea.

And most importantly, 

#3 - Do something to make the world more beautiful.  This is how she  becomes known as "The Lupine Lady". 

The story is so lovely and so haunting (in a good way) that it has stuck with me to this day.  I love that thought. I want to do that. I want my kids to do that too. 

So with all these lupines around, I was reminded of the book and decided to check it out again. So that I could read it to my children just as my mother read it to me.  I also had a hankering to get an armload of lupines from our local U-Pick Flower Farm.  (Any excuse to visit this little piece of heaven!)

In a way, the woman who runs this flower farm is her own version of The Lupine Lady.  The world is a more beautiful place because of her. And for only $7 you can bring home a whole armful of this beauty.

And that's what I did.  And this is what was waiting on the table for my kids when they came home.


It was wonderful to read it to my kids and share the dream with them - to be our own versions of the Lupine Lady when we grow up and make the world more beautiful.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ready or Not, Here They Come!

Yesterday was the last day of elementary school for my two oldest.  Remember when you were a kid and this was the best day?  There was magic in the air knowing that you were “officially” another grade older and a whole summer break was waiting for you.  Everyone at school was buzzing with excitement, counting the minutes for the last bell to ring! I loved summer!

But as a mom, I’ve had other emotions when facing this day.  I remember one summer especially, when my husband Chad and I spent a summer apart.  Chad got a dream ministry job across state and we were waiting for our house to sell. So he moved ahead of us while I stayed back with the kids and my old ministry job.  That summer I was single-parenting, working and keeping a staged house clean and ready to show at a moment’s notice.  All this with no childcare. Ack! What was I thinking?

Since that crazy summer, I try my best to ready myself for the onslaught of summer. I try.  I am not a planner. I am more of a nose-to-the-grindstone type of gal. I keep my head down and work hard on what’s right in front of me. So planning far in advance for a whole summer break?  Not gonna happen.  I have no idea yet when Library Days are, or VBS, or even when my kids will do swim lessons. We will do all of them, we always do. Just don’t rush me.

So since yesterday was the last day of school, I will now start working on the plan. (Don’t rush me people!)  I will soon share some of the fun ideas I come up with.  In the mean time, I did have some fun things set up for the kids yesterday.  Here’s what our kids came home to:

BIKES & SCOOTERS - I had enough foresight to get the kid’s bikes all tuned up and cleaned, some even have bigger bikes waiting for them. I also got a couple of (free!) Razor Scooters for our two oldest. We have a park across the street that has a nice riding space, so we will be logging in some good hours there! Total cost: $60 (for a set of new tires, a set of training wheels and a new basket). 

BOOKS – Each of the kids will get a few new books.  I used the credit we had at Bruised Books (a local used books store), plus a gift card we had at Total cost: $1.50

BACKYARD FUN! – Bubbles (I filled the ones they already had), new sidewalk chalk, and their swimming pool filled (with inflatables we already had) – were all waiting for them. Total cost: $2 (for new chalk)

PAR-TAY! -  (I can take little-to-no credit for this one! I have two amazing, extrovert, planner-types in my life that plan for me - my husband and my friend.)  We hosted a Potluck BBQ & Ice Cream Sundae Party (thank you Paige for planning this!) at our house with a Campout (thank you Chad!) to follow.  I will make sure our house is clean and the backyard fun is awaiting our family and friends.

OK, I do love summer.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lessons from A to Z ~ Life Abundant

Springtime came a little late here in Pullman. In fact, we almost skipped it altogether! One week there was still frost on the ground in the mornings, the next week it was 70 degrees outside and we were barbequing. With the warm weather, came my eager anticipation for all of our flowers to bloom! Each day I watched our colorless gardens, waiting for the first flowers to come out. And finally now, a few weeks into spring, we have an abundance of life blooming!

One example that Abby marveled at the other day was a Poppy in our yard. The Poppy has the most interesting large, pale green, fuzzy bud. She didn’t yet know what it was, but couldn’t help break one open, just to see what was inside. There she found beautiful, delicate ruffles of petals just waiting to pop.  This week the first of our Poppies opened and she got to see the incredible flower in all its vibrant glory.

With all this life blossoming around us, I can’t help but think of Zoe and her baptism this month. Much like a flowering Poppy, baptism is an outward sign of a new vibrant life within.  It is the symbol of a new life in Christ. Not only that, but Zoe’s name literally means “life” in Greek. And anyone who knows her can attest she is bursting with spunk and life! One of my favorite verses using her name is John 10:10, “I came that they may have LIFE [zoë], and have it abundantly.” Not just biological life (“bios”), but an abundant, vibrant quality of life (“zoë”)!
Zoe - waving to Resonate Church after getting baptazed

As her mother, I have watched her life begin and grow in eager anticipation.  God put a lot of spunk and spirit into such a small little bud!  And now I am so thankful, humbled and excited to see the vibrant things God does in and through her life.  No longer just a little bud, God has given Zoe a colorful, vibrant, abundant life in Him.

I came that they may have life
and have it abundantly.
~ John 10:10

Friday, May 31, 2013

Head In The Sand

Ostriches don't actually hide their head in the sand when scared, But just go with me on this.

OK, here’s the honest truth about why I stopped blogging:  I’ve had my head in the sand for awhile. 

It is not without good reason. This has been a challenging year for me and for our family. Challenging in a good way, not bad - but challenging just the same. I am navigating my way through ministry, family and (for the last year and a half) being a foster mom. And I love it. But it has been the most risky, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, wonderfully beautiful thing I have yet to go through so far in this life.  I have quite a few more gray hairs because of it and I am proud of them (while simultaneously covering them with a few more minutes of hair dye).

I could stop there. That’s an honorable reason to be incommunicado. There is a season for everything, and a different calling for everyone. And given the option, I’d much rather be too busy with life to blog about it, than the other way around.  But for me, I’m not being totally honest if I stopped there. Because God has challenged me as a leader to communicate what He’s putting me through!  And with 18 years of ministry behind me, I can say that He pressed that desire into me long before I ever thought of being a foster mom.

But that calling has been almost as scary and overwhelming to me as being a foster mom.  And I couldn’t face TWO scary things at the same time on my own strength! So I stuck my head in the sand and hid for a little while – for the same reasons that scared little ostrich does – it comforts me, appeases me, helps me cope.  But those scary things that dare to threaten my comfort, are still out there.  And this little ostrich is doing herself no favors hiding from them.

So I’m coming up out of the sand and trusting God with more.  God is teaching me on a daily basis how to live beyond my own little self, how to rely on Him, and how to tell others His Story at the end of the day.  So join me won’t you, on this risky, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, wonderfully beautiful journey.  It won’t always be about hard stuff, it will be about good stuff too.  It won’t always be serious, it will be fun and even trivial too.  But I hope it will always be about the story God is writing in my life.

I hope it will encourage you in your own story with God too.

“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story” ~ Psalm 107:2

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lessons from A to Z ~ Facing the Unknown

Well folks, I’m learning lessons from my Father like never before!  But its not  based around a cute kids story.  In this case, it is learning the hard part of  being a Foster Mom — loving these precious boys with all my heart — while facing the unknown future with them.

Fostering has its cute moments, and sweet stories.  But it also has its heart-wrenching moments and hardships.  We are holding the hands of children who are on the front lines of loss & the unknown.   And it can be overwhelming.

Our family is facing the unknown. Two potential futures lay before us: the hope of adoption or the heart break of saying goodbye.  We would love to adopt these boys who have become our sons.  But it is not up to us, it is in the hands of a lot of people, and we pray ultimately in the hands of God.

I ask that you join us in praying for our sweet sons, as their future gets determined.  Pray for God’s best for them.  That is what we truly want: God’s absolute best!  I think of Abraham, placing his beloved son Isaac in God’s hands.  Facing  potential loss, he has faith and submits to God’s will.  God has a plan that is best and I’m laying this unknown future on the alter.

 As parents, Chad & I want to protect them, comfort them, provide stability and make plans for their future.  But in this case, we cannot always do that.  We must trust God with their lives and their unknown future that lies ahead.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”     

~ Jeremiah 29:11

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you, 
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 ~ Philippians 1:6